Guest post by Duarte Romero
Since the start of the year the Argentinian newspaper ‘La Nación’ has been publishing ‘Nación Data’, a blog dedicated to data visualization, interactive projects and especially, all the news related with data journalism.
The multimedia development manager of ‘La Nación’, Momi Peralta, pointed out that their main goal so far is to release as much data as they can.
It is important to highlight that in Argentina there is not a Freedom of Information Act, so most of the statistics and spreadsheets they use are made by their own journalists.
Peralta believes that this data journalism will help to open up information in her country:
“One of our aims [is to] produce good information in Argentina, opening new data and creating visualizations. Each [set of] data that is published means that more knowledge is released.”
Last Friday they launched a new platform, titled, simply: ‘Data’. This tool is used to publish those indices that are collected and refined by journalists and allow the possibility to download them as a spreadsheet or share on social networks.
On the dashboard you can find data about topics as different as traffic collisions, carbon dioxide emissions and the activity of the parliament.
Some are used in current stories but others are just uploaded for the interest of the public.
Peralta hopes that this project will help empower the open data movement in Argentina, so she wants to use the blog to keep in touch with the community.
She likes to compare data driven journalism with constructing a building. Data are the materials and tools are the technology, but if you want to make something you will need to order them first.
Finally, she points out that you may build things on your own but if you have contributions from other people, the result will be better.
Learning by doing
None of this would be possible if ‘La Nación’ had not made a great effort to train its workers in the main tools used in data journalism. The team that is in charge of this area attended several courses on Excel, Tableau, scraping and other techniques.
During the NICAR conference they played a video (embedded below) about this learning process to share their improvements and achievements with the community.
This enthusiasm was recognized by some of the most prestigious institutions of the online journalism community. In the last two years, ‘La Nación’ has received two ONA awards and one EPPY thanks to their innovative projects.
Furthermore, last week the Argentinian paper was chosen by the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews for a partnership aimed at driving open source innovation in news.
This award is shared with The New York Times, ProPublica and Spiegel Online and it means that ‘La Nación’ is the first paper written in Spanish to receive this prize.
Not many Spanish-language countries have developed a truly open data policy, but with more examples of media organisations working with data, the hope is that public institutions will be forced to improve their transparency and openness.